It’s like a scene from the old Hitchcock thriller, “The Birds,” only instead of swarms of crows, it’s flocks of geese.
Canada geese are invading city parks, boat docks and other recreational areas across Middle Tennessee.
They are more than a honking, squawking nuisance; their droppings are a health hazard.
Like the deer and coyotes that are proliferating in Middle Tennessee’s rapidly expanding suburbs, wild geese are becoming a major problem.
And like deer and coyotes, nobody seems to know what to do about it.
Flocks of nuisance geese would be relatively easy to control in many areas by hunting, but animal-rights advocates won’t stand for it. They propose trapping the geese and transplanting them to new areas. That’s similar to the way they try to deal with huge swarms of starlings that invade every fall. They use loud noises to shoo them off.
Off to where?
Off to another area, where they become someone else’s problem.
City and suburban parks are particularly attractive to Canada geese because of the lush grass and clover on which they feed, along with picnic scraps and other goodies deposited by park visitors.
Most parks and boat docks have signs posted warning the public not to feed the geese and ducks, but the signs don’t do much good. Even if visitors don’t intentionally feed the birds, there are usually enough leftovers scattered around picnic benches and garbage cans to provide a bountiful goose buffet.
At one city park on Old Hickory Lake, youngsters are cautioned about playing around the shore due to goose droppings. Hikers on trails and users of boat docks have to watch their step. The water in the cove is so fouled by fowl that nobody would dare wade in.
And like the deer and coyote problem, the goose situation will get worse. The suburbs are wildlife havens, offering an abundance of food and shelter – two main requisites – along with protection from hunters.
In rural areas the deer population can be controlled by hunting, as can the coyote population to some extent. (Coyotes are so cunning and prolific that hunting can’t totally control them.) Likewise in rural settings, geese aren’t a problem because they are not congested in cramped quarters and can be safely hunted in most areas.
But in city parks, geese can’t be shot. It wouldn’t be safe, even if the animal-rights folks would stand for it – which, of course, they won’t.
That leaves trapping as the only solution, but it’s labor-intensive, which makes it expensive. And catch-and-release is not a long-term cure, just a temporary reprieve.
Canada geese are magnificent, fascinating birds. They are intriguing to watch and photograph.
But like anything else, there can be too much of a good thing, and too many geese in a city park is a problem. It’s a growing challenge suburbs are going to have to deal with.